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Typhlops lumbricalis (LINNAEUS, 1758)

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Higher TaxaTyphlopidae (Typhlopinae), Typhlopoidea, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Cuban Brown Blindsnake, Earthworm Blind Snake
G: Regenwurm-Blindschlange 
SynonymAnguis lumbricalis LINNAEUS 1758: 228
Typhlops lumbricalis — OPPEL 1811
Typhlops cubae BIBRON in DE LA SAGRA 1843: 122
Typhlops lumbricalis — DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1844: 287
Typhlops lumbricalis — BOULENGER 1893: 31
Typhlops lumbricalis — SCHWARTZ & HENDERSON 1991: 651
Typhlops lumbricalis — MCDIARMID, CAMPBELL & TOURÉ 1999: 108
Typhlops lumbricalis — KORNILIOS et al. 2013
Typhlops lumbricalis — HEDGES et al. 2014
Typhlops lumbricalis — WALLACH et al. 2014: 765 
DistributionBahama Islands: Little Bahama Bank (Water Cay, Little and Great Ragged islands) and Great Bahama Bank: Abaco Islands (Great and Little Abaco islands), Andros Island, Berry Islands (Great Harbour Cay), Bimini Islands (South Bimini Island), Cat Island, Eleuthera Island, Exuma Cays (Great and Little Exuma islands, Pipe Cay, Staniel Cay), Long Island, and New Providence Island.

Type locality: “Cuba” (BIBRON 1843); restricted to “Bahamas islands” by THOMAS 1989.  
TypesNeotype: KU 273756, suggested by Dominguez & Diaz 2011 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus). Species of Typhlops have (1) eye, distinct, (2) snout, rounded, (3) head scale arrangement, non-circular, (4) frontorostral, absent, (5) nasal, completely divided (rarely incomplete), (6) nasal suture origin, supralabial 2, (7) suboculars or subpreoculars, absent (rarely present), (8) postoculars, 2 (rarely 1 or 3; average, 1.85), (9) preocular-labial contact, supralabial 3 (rarely none), (10) midbody scale rows, 18 or 22 (average, 20.0), (11) scale row reduction, present or absent, (12) total scale rows, 231–457 (average, 312), (13) caudals, 8–19 (average, 13.1), (14) maximum total length, 126–445 (average, 243) mm, (15) total length/midbody diameter, 23–57 (average, 35.9), (16) total length/tail length, 18–88 (36.8), (17) dorsal color, always pigmented, brown or tan, (18) ventral color, unpigmented (pinkish), white, or cream, (19) dorsum darker than venter, and (20) overall, lacking any distinctive pattern (spots, lines, or stripes), although rarely a faint trace of a dorsal line (Tables 1–2); molecular phylogenetic support
(Figs. 1, 3).
Among its closest relatives (Figs. 1, 3), Typhlops is distinguished from Cubatyphlops by the presence of 2 postoculars (versus 1; except in 3 species of Typhlops with 1 postocular) and preocular contact with supralabial 3 only (versus contact with supralabials 2 and 3 in Cubatyphlops) (Table 2). The same distinction holds for Typhlops versus the more distantly related Amerotyphlops, although 4 species of that latter genus have more than 1 postocular (Thomas 1968; 1976; Dixon & Hendricks 1979; Thomas & Hedges 2007). Typhlops and Antillotyphlops require closest comparison. Thomas (1989) found that species placed here in the genus Typhlops formed a group separate from species placed here in Antillotyphlops based on reduction of the basihyal and a lower number of total middorsal scale rows. He excluded T. jamaicensis and T. sulcatus from that definition, but the molecular data place those two species together with others in Typhlops sensu stricto [HEDGES et al. 2014: 47]. For an alternative diagnosis see PYRON & WALLACH 2014: 45. 
CommentType species: Anguis lumbricalis LINNAEUS 1758: 228 is the type species of the genus Typhlops SCHNEIDER in OPPEL 1811.

Type genus: Typhlops is the type genus of the subfamily Typhlopinae and the family Typhlopidae.

Phylogenetics: for a phylogenetic analysis of Typhopidae see Sidharthan & Karanth 2021.

Synonymy: Typhlops silus LEGLER 1959 has been removed from the synonymy of T. lumbricalis. Kaiser et al. 2013 considered the generic names Acetyphlops Hoser 2012, Altmantyphlops Hoser 2012, Arnoldtyphlops Hoser 2012, Copelandtyphlops Hoser 2012, Crottytyphlops Hoser 2012, Dannytyphlops Hoser 2012, Edwardstyphlops Hoser 2012, Eippertyphlopea Hoser 2012, Elliotttyphlopea Hoser 2012, Freudtyphlops Hoser 2012, Goldsteintyphlops Hoser 2012, Judywhybrowea Hoser 2012, Katrinhosertyphlops Hoser 2012, Lenhosertyphlops Hoser 2012, Mosestyphlops Hoser 2012, Nintyphlops Hoser 2012, Pillotttyphlops Hoser 2012, Rentontyphlops Hoser 2012, Rolyburrellus Hoser 2012, Ronhoserus Hoser 2012, Woolftyphlops Hoser 2012 invalid and rejected their use instead of Typhlops.

Typhlops (Diaphorotyphlops) disparilis JAN, in JAN & SORDELLI 1860-1866 is a species of unknown status and thus listed under “species inquirenda” by several authors, e.g. WALLACH et al. 2014: 837, (following Hahn 1980: 76), MCDIARMID, et al. 1999: 125 etc. It’s distribution and type locality are unknown (according to HAHN 1980) and the type destroyed. However, the species has been mentioned in a few papers, e.g. as Diaphorotyphlops disparilis (PETERS 1881: 70) or
Typhlops disparilis (BOULENGER 1893: 53).

For illustrations see Vogel, 1965; Vogel, 1966; Thomas, 1974; Thomas, 1976.

When A. lumbricalis was published this taxon was composite of two names currently used for two distinct species, Typhlops lumbricalis from the Cuban archipelago and the Bahamas and Typhlops jamaicensis (Shaw, 1802) from Jamaica. The now-nominal species Anguis jamaicensis was based on two of the references cited by Linnaeus and the name jamaicensis is a replacement name for lumbricalis.

Distribution: restricted to the Bahamas Islands by DOMINGUEZ & DIAZ 2011. Populations from other localities have been assigned to other species by DOMINGUEZ & DIAZ 2011. The species has previously been reported from Cuba, Isla de la Juventud, Hispaniola, Bahamas, Guyana (introduced), Jamaica (BARBOUR 1910), and the USA (Florida and Puerto Rico). Records of this species from Guyana and Florida, USA, are based in specimens stored in museums (e.g., Myers, 1958; Peters and Orejas– Miranda, 1970). These records are mistakes because they were based on misidentifications and erroneous locality data (Dixon and Hen- dricks, 1979; McDiarmid et al., 1999). 
EtymologyNamed after Latin lumbricus = earthworm, based on the similarity to earthworms and their fossorial life style.

The generic name, a masculine noun, is Greek (”typhlos”), meaning ‘blind’ from (”typhl-” = blind + ops = eye). The genus name is feminine (fide Savage 1950). 
  • Barbour, T. 1904. Batrachia and Reptilia from the Bahamas. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard 46: 55—61 - get paper here
  • Barbour, T. 1910. Notes on the herpetology of Jamaica. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard 52: 273—301 - get paper here
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1893. Catalogue of the snakes in the British Museum (Nat. Hist.) I. London (Taylor & Francis), 448 pp. - get paper here
  • Cochran, D. 1924. Typhlops lumbricalis and related forms. J. Washington Acad. Sci. 14 (8): 174-177
  • Cocteau, J.-T. and G. Bibron 1838. Reptiles, in R. de la Sagra. Historia Física, Política y Natural de la Isla de Cuba, Tomo IV. Arthus Bertrand, Paris, 142 pp. [1838-1843 - index on page 143; but note that BHL has 1840 on the cover page of vol. IV] - get paper here
  • DEVOS, TYLER & SEAN GIERY. 2021. Establishment of the introduced Brahminy Blindsnake (Indotyphlops braminus) on Abaco Island, The Bahamas, with notes on potential niche overlap with the native Cuban Brown Blindsnake (Typhlops lumbricalis). Reptiles & Amphibians 28(3): 555–557. - get paper here
  • Domínguez, M. and R. E. Díaz. 2011. Case 3527 - Anguis lumbricalis Linnaeus, 1758 and Anguis jamaicencis Shaw, 1802 (currently Typhlops lumbricalis and Typhlops jamaicensis) (Reptilia, Serpentes): proposed conservation of usage of the specific names by the designation of neotypes for b Bull. Zool. Nomenclature 68 (3):197-203 - get paper here
  • DOMÍNGUEZ, MICHEL & LUIS V. MORENO 2009. Taxonomy of the Cuban blind snakes (Scolecophidia, Typhlopidae), with the description of a new large species. Zootaxa 2028: 59-66 - get paper here
  • Domínguez, Michel and Raúl E Díaz 2011. Taxonomy of the Blind Snakes Associated with Typhlops lumbricalis (Linnaeus, 1758) (Scolecophidia, Typhlopidae) from the Bahamas Islands and Cuba. Herpetologica 67 (2): 194-211. - get paper here
  • DOMÍNGUEZ, MICHEL; ANSEL FONG G. & MANUEL ITURRIAGA 2013. A new blind snake (Typhlopidae) from Northeastern Cuba. Zootaxa 3681: 136–146 - get paper here
  • Duméril, A. M. C. and G. Bibron. 1844. Erpetologie Générale ou Histoire Naturelle Complete des Reptiles. Vol.6. Libr. Encyclopédique Roret, Paris, 609 pp. - get paper here
  • Hedges, S.B., Marion, A.B., Lipp, K.M., Marin, J. & Vidal, N. 2014. A taxonomic framework for typhlopid snakes from the Caribbean and other regions (Reptilia, Squamata). Caribbean Herpetology 49: 1–61 - get paper here
  • Hoser, R.T. 2012. A review of the extant scolecophidians (“blindsnakes”) including the formal naming and diagnosis of new tribes, genera, subgenera, species and subspecies for divergent taxa. Australasian J. Herpetol. 15: 1–64. - get paper here
  • Jan, G. 1860. Iconographie générale des ophidiens. 1. Livraison. J.B. Bailière et Fils, Paris - get paper here
  • Jan, G. 1864. Iconographie générale des ophidiens. 3. Livraison. J.B. Bailière et Fils, Paris - get paper here
  • Kaiser, H.; Crother, B.I.; Kelly, C.M.R.; Luiselli, L.; O’Shea, M.; Ota, H.; Passos, P.; Schleip, W.D. & Wüster, W. 2013. Best Practices: In the 21st Century, Taxonomic Decisions in Herpetology are Acceptable Only When Supported by a Body of Evidence and Published via Peer-Review. Herpetological Review 44 (1): 8-23
  • Kornilios, P.; S. Giokas, P. Lymberakis, R. Sindaco 2013. Phylogenetic position, origin and biogeography of Palearctic and Socotran blind-snakes (Serpentes: Typhlopidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 68 (1): 35–41 - get paper here
  • Legler, J.M. 1959. A new blind snake (genus Typhlops) from Cuba. Herpetologica 15 (2): 105-112 - get paper here
  • Linnaeus, C. [= Linné, C. von] 1758. Systema naturæ per regna tria naturæ, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata. Laurentii Salvii, Holmiæ. 10th Edition: 824 pp. - get paper here
  • McDiarmid, R.W.; Campbell, J.A. & Touré,T.A. 1999. Snake species of the world. Vol. 1. [type catalogue] Herpetologists’ League, 511 pp.
  • Meyers, Charles W. 1958. A possible introduction of the snake Typhlops in the United States. Copeia 1958 (4): 338 - get paper here
  • Oppel, M. 1811. Die Ordnungen, Familien und Gattungen der Reptilien, als Prodrom einer Naturgeschichte derselben. J. Lindauer, München. - get paper here
  • Peters, WILHELM C. H. 1881. Einige herpetologische Mittheilungen. 1. Uebersicht der zu den Familien der Typhlopes und Stenostomi gehörigen Gattungen oder Untergattungen. 2. Ueber eine neue Art von Tachydromus aus dem Amurlande. 3. Ueber die von Herrn Dr. finsch aus Polynesien g Sitzungs-Ber. Gesellsch.Naturforsch. Freunde Berlin, 1881 (4): 69-72.
  • Pyron, R.A. & Wallach, V. 2014. Systematics of the blindsnakes (Serpentes: Scolecophidia: Typhlopoidea) based on molecular and morphological evidence. Zootaxa 3829 (1): 001–081 - get paper here
  • Richmond, N. D. 1961. The status of Typhlops silus Legler. Copeia 1961 (2): 221-222 - get paper here
  • Rodríguez Schettino, Lourdes, Carlos A. Mancina & Vilma Rivalta González 2013. REPTILES OF CUBA: CHECKLIST AND GEOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTIONS. Smithsonian Herp. Inf. Serv. (144): 1-96 - get paper here
  • Savage, J.M. 1950. Two new blind snakes ( genus Typhlops) from the Philippine Islands. Proc. California zool. Club, Palo Alto, 1 : 49-54
  • Schwartz, A. & Henderson, R.W. 1991. Amphibians and Reptiles of the West Indies. University of Florida Press, Gainesville, 720 pp.
  • Sidharthan, Chinta, and K Praveen Karanth 2021. India’s Biogeographic History through the Eyes of Blindsnakes- Filling the Gaps in the Global Typhlopoid Phylogeny. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 157: 107064 - get paper here
  • Thomas, R. 1974. A new species of Lesser Antillean Typhlops (Serpentes: Typhlopidae). Occas. Pap. Mus. Zool. Louisiana State Univ. 46:1-5. - get paper here
  • Thomas, R. 1976. Systematics of Antillean blind snakes of the genus Typhlops (Serpentes: Typhlopidae). Ph.D. Thesis, Louisiana State Univ.: xvi + 288pp.
  • Vogel, Z. 1965. Herpetologische Beobachtungen auf Kuba (II). Aquar. und Terrar. 12(9):98-99.
  • Vogel, Z. 1966. Herpetologische waarnemingen op Cuba III. Lacerta 24 (9): 69-70. - get paper here
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